While attempting to enjoy some time in the sand box at our local park the other day, my three year old son looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Mommy, why do those big boys keep grabbing my toys from me?”
I had already intervened three times in twenty minutes.
“They just forgot their manners today, sweet boy. They seem really excited. But they should ask. And say please.”
“It hurts my feelings when they do that, Mommy.”
It’s not the first time his feelings have been hurt, and I know that it won’t be the last.
It can be tricky to teach kindness and consideration in a world full of kids who are not being taught the same lesson.
Don’t get me wrong; we encounter plenty of friendly children during our park outings. But the not-so-friendly ones often turn a nice morning at the park into a stressful morning at the park. So much so that my sweet boy requests to leave when the going gets tough.
Although I want him to learn to be assertive, I can’t say that I blame him for wanting to leave.
The sand box is his happy place. He spends hours in his own sand box in the backyard. But if it isn’t fun at the park…why stick around?
Therein lies the problem. If he stands a chance of practicing assertiveness skills, the tot lot is the best place to do it. There he can interact with other kids about his age and practice sharing and asserting his needs.
There he can laugh with, learn from, and have fun with other kids. On a good day.
There he can thrive (in theory)….
But not if I’m the only mom finding the teachable moments.
Not if I am the only one providing gentle reminders about things like sharing, nice voices, kindness, and consideration.
Not if I’m the only one paying attention.
Babies don’t enter this world with knowledge of kindness and consideration. These are skills that parents have to teach. Over and over again.
It takes time, patience, and practice to teach appropriate social interaction skills.
It requires all of us to work together and do our part to make sure that our kids are being kind and considerate toward others.
It requires setting limits and adhering to those limits, even when it’s hard to follow through.
It requires active parenting at all times…even during an outing to the local park.
Give your children the tools they need feel successful in social settings.
Teach them kindness and consideration.
Every. Single. Day.